Tough Twelve

My new mantra: “Tough Runs Make You Stronger.”

 

I repeated that to myself over and over on Saturday morning’s long run. I’m not sure what exactly made this run so tough, but it wasn’t easy! I’ll start from the beginning…

 

My alarm went off at 6:30 am, and I fueled up with two slices of toast. Peanut butter jelly time!

 

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I drove over to meet Kelly (and her friend Sara) for a portion of the run. I was so happy to run with friends instead of by myself. Long runs are not just a physical challenge, but mentally difficult, too!

 

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Kelly, Sara, and I ran the first 8.0 miles together. It started off pretty cool outside, and we started at a pretty fast pace. A few times I looked down at my watch, and we were running sub 9:00 min/mile pace! I knew if I didn’t slow down, I wouldn’t make it.

 

The course we ran was a giant 8.0 mile loop, which made it mentally easier than running in circles around a single neighborhood. As it started to heat up outside, I got increasingly more tired. I had to ask Sara and Kelly to slow down, and even to walk a few times.

 

Once we got back to Kelly’s house, I re-filled my water bottle with Gatorade. I was really dragging at this point, especially knowing that I had 4.0 more miles to go. The extra sugar gave me the boost I needed to get back out there.

 

Kelly and I ran another 1.6 miles together before calling it quits.

 

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It was brutally hot out at this point, and I was about to give up. I was tired and dehydrated, and just didn’t think I could finish.

 

Instead, I drove 5 minutes down the road to the gym, where I finished up my long run. With only 2.4 miles left to complete my 12.0, my legs were heavy and dragging. The gym air conditioner was broken, and I started sweating more than I had been outside.

 

I ran an easy 10:00 min/mile pace to finish up the run, and was relieved for it to be over.

 

I was a hot, sweaty, disgusting mess… and I smelled pretty darn bad, too!

 

Total Run: 12.0 miles

Total Time: 1:56:00

Average Pace: 9:40 min/mile

 

At least I finished! 🙂

 

Once I got back to the house, I made a big bowl of oatmeal. Considering how warm I was, it wasn’t exactly my top choice, but it was the only filling food in Mark’s pantry.

 

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I topped it with fresh pomegranate and frozen blackberries.

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Note to self: Opening a pomegranate makes a mess!

 

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I know that tough runs only make me stronger. I also know that hard runs are the ones that teach you the most. A bad run can indicate something that you need to improve upon.

 

This week I struggled to maintain a solid sleep schedule due to working long and late hours. I also felt very dehydrated, which affects me more than anything.

 

How do you get through a tough long run?

 

❤ MegaNerd

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The Story of Pumpkin Head Fred

Meet my Jack-O-Lantern… Pumpkin Head Fred.

 

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Fred came into our lives one lovely Friday afternoon when we picked him out at the Great Pumpkin Patch.

 

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Dozens of other pumpkins were waiting to be taken home, but we had to choose just one. It was a tough choice!

 

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Not only did we have to choose from pumpkins of all shapes and sizes…

 

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…but of all colors, too!

 

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I was a fan of the littler orange baby pumpkins…

 

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…but spent some time pondering the green gourds…

 

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…and just playing, in general. 😉

 

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After wandering around the patch for the perfect pumpkin, we selected this guy.

 

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We took him home and cleaned his guts out. I’ll spare you the gory details.

 

The next step was to create and carve his face. I wanted a happy-ish face, not too scary.

 

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This is the story of how our Pumpkin, Fred, was brought to life. Fred, say hello!

 

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Happy Halloween!

 

❤ MegaNerd

Strands

During my 3.5 years of running, I have tried out many different training logs to keep track of my workouts. I went from straight pencil and paper, to Runner’s World log (which has since become Training Peaks), to adding workouts into my Google Calendar, to Excel spreadsheets, and even a Training page on my blog.

 

When Strands sent me an e-mail asking me to check out their website, I didn’t really jump on the bandwagon immediately. I have a history of not really using workout logs once I start them, and I figured why even bother create another account. I am rarely at my computer and don’t have time to sit there and enter workouts in.

 

When I found out that Strands has a mobile app for my iPhone, I decided to give it a go. Why not? I’m constantly on the go, and being able to keep track of my runs is something I would like to do. I liked using other web-based tracking programs, but I can’t commit if I have to go to my computer everyday.

 

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Strands has a ton of great features that I love. I’ve been using it for about a month now to keep track of my runs, and so far it’s been very useful. You can follow my log at www.strands.com/meganerdruns

 

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Pros:

  • Personalized webpage for easy tracking 
  • Race Time predictor based on your recent runs <—can’t wait to see how accurate this is!

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  • Connected to Facebook and Twitter, making it easy to share with friends or blog readers. Social networking and running combined! What great motivation. 🙂
  • Keeps track of weekly/monthly mileage 
  • Tracks your progress over 5 week time periods to see if you are improving
  • Allows for uploading of GPS files directly from Garmin, Nike+ and more

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  • Has space for tracking weather, weight, gear used, heart rate, etc.
  • Post Race Goals and Personal Records on your profile

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  • iPhone app feature includes GPS

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Cons:

  • No Blackberry App
  • Off-brand GPS not supported for uploading
  • No place to link Blog from my profile (that I have found, at least)
  • No place to track nutritional stats (con if you care about this)

 

In my opinion, it’s a great all-around training log. They pretty much thought of everything you could need in a training log. My favorite feature is the fact that I can enter my workouts from anywhere from my iPhone or online.

 

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They claim to be “the ultimate training log for active people,” which I believe (so far) that it’s possible!

 

Have you checked out Strands.com? What did you think of it?

How do you keep track of your workouts?

 

❤ MegaNerd

Treadmill Tempo

I have a love/hate relationship with dreadmills treadmills.

 

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Loves:

  • Can use anytime the gym is open, regardless weather
  • Complete control over pace
  • Watch TV while working out
  • Safer before light/after dark

Hates:

  • Boooooooooooooooooooring!

 

Working during all the daylight hours requires me to hit the gym on occasion. My options are: treadmill or don’t run at all. I chose the former.

 

Today’s workout was a tempo run. I found that this is the MOST boring workout known to mankind that you could ever do on the treadmill. It usually involves holding a slightly uncomfortable pace for a decent amount of miles. Speed intervals go by quickly because you are constantly changing the pace and it seems to fly by. Easy runs are usually short, and I can watch tv or be otherwise engaged. Treadmill tempo runs are brutal.

 

I completed my 5.0 mile tempo run at a 9:13 min/mile pace, or 6.5 mph on the treadmill. I found it really hard to start running at this pace, but toward the end it got easier. My natural tendency towards negative splits (getting progressively faster) makes it weird to hold a constant pace for that long.

 

I think I may save tempo runs for the great outdoors if at all possible. 🙂

 

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I’ve been meaning to blog about the October grocery budget challenge but I keep forgetting. It’s going pretty well, but I’m finding that I’m eating a TON of pasta. I guess it’s no big deal since I pretty much crave it after any tough run (and those have been more frequent lately.)

 

I try to switch it up, but lately my go-to has been spaghetti-chicken-broccoli-alfredo. It’s exactly what the name says.

 

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For a jarred sauce, this stuff is pretty damn good.

 

 

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Do you prefer to workout in a gym or outside? I’m an outdoor girl! 

 

❤ MegaNerd

Pumpkin Penne

I don’t think pumpkin gets much better than this.

 

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I have been craving all things pumpkin lately. Pumpkin spice lattes. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin ice cream. Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin oatmeal. Pumpkin Swirl Bread. Pumpkin gelato.

 

When Heather made Baked Pumpkin Penne, I was intrigued. It wasn’t a recipe that immediately sounded A-maaaaa-zing to me. After BFF Debbie made it, and told me that it tasted similar to my beloved Pumpkin Ravioli I tried while visiting her in Princeton, NJ last year, I knew that I must give it a try.

 

From November 20, 2009, and I quote: “That was the best food decision of my life.” And it was.

 

 

I won’t lie, combining pumpkin and cheese in a bowl sounded a wee bit odd to me.

 

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The final product. Heaven.

 

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I was so happy with the results!

 

It made a TON! I literally was eating pumpkin penne leftovers every day until they went bad. I can’t imagine what the entire recipe would have produced; I only made one-third of her original recipe!

 

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On the side, I made a spring mix salad with sliced apples, dried cranberries, and pomegranate raspberry dressing. It was the perfect sweet complement.

 

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This recipe is definitely a keeper. 🙂

 

Which pumpkin recipes have you tried and loved?

 

❤ MegaNerd

Ten, Again

I did it again! Another 10.0 miler on my sneakers.

 

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I have exactly four weeks left to train for the St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon. I feel like I could run a decent half marathon next weekend, honestly. My legs have been feeling great, and so far I haven’t had any problems.

 

This is my second 10.0 mile training run this season. I improved my average pace by 11 seconds per mile on this run. I can’t say it was all me, though. I had Kelly pushing me through miles 3-9!

 

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Mile splits:

  • Mile 1: 10:04
  • Mile 2: 9:43
  • Mile 3: 9:42
  • Mile 4: 9:29
  • Mile 5: 9:20
  • Mile 6: 9:20
  • Mile 7: 9:22
  • Mile 8: 9:21
  • Mile 9: 9:13
  • Mile 10: 8:45 <—just wanted to finish after Kelly left!

 

Negative splits, once again! 🙂

 

Total: 10.0 miles

Average pace: 9:27 min/mile

 

It’s crazy how fast I have been improving since coming back to running a few months ago. Two months ago, I struggled to maintain an 11:00 min/mile pace for a  7.0 mile run. Yesterday, I was able to comfortably run 10.0 miles in under 9:30 min/mile pace.

 

It just goes to show that if you really put in the effort, you can gain back your fitness post-injury. I went from struggling through 2.0 mile runs this summer, back to running 10.0 miles. I gave my body the months of rest it needed and am coming back strong.

 

 

After my run, I re-fueled with the world’s greatest breakfast:

 

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  • Banana
  • Kashi Heart 2 Heart cereal
  • Scoop of Natural PB
  • Organic skim milk

 

I will never get sick of this. Never, ever.

 

❤ MegaNerd

Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

This weekend, I got to visit the most magical place on earth: Disney World! (Unless you are running the Disney marathon. That, in fact, is not magical.)

 

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My pseudo-family invited me to come with them to Disney on Friday night for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween-Party.

 

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It was a last minute invite, and unfortunately anything costume-ish is jammed into a 4×10 storage unit on the other side of town. I did what any girl would do, and went as myself!

 

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I dressed as a marathoner. Imagine that! 🙂

 

I was joined by a cute little lady bug.

 

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From the moment we arrived at Disney, I knew that it was going to be great. I love Halloween! I love dressing up, I love candy, I love caramel apples, carving pumpkins, and pretty much everything except for being scared.

 

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The entrance  was decorated in fall colors and “spooky” music was playing.

 

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Upon entering the park, a candy collecting bag is issued, along with a wristband. Since this is a special event, it was only open to guests who bought the special ticket. The park was ours from 6:00pm-midnight!

 

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I was so impressed with all the Halloween stuff around the park! I wanted an eyeballoon.

 

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I think this might be my favorite time to come to Disney. There were hardly any lines (5-10 minute wait, MAX), it wasn’t hot as Hades, little kids were running around in cute costumes, and the park was decorated in my favorite fall colors!

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My favorite part of the entire evening was the parade. It was unlike any other, because the star of the show was the VILLANS!

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We made sure to get plenty of rides done after the parade. Space mountain here we come!

 

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Walking around the park all night wore us out. We stayed for the fireworks show, and then called it a night.

 

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All the trick-or-treating and rides made me feel like a kid again! If you are in the Orlando area and looking for something (not scary) to do on Halloween, I’d recommend checking it out! It’s half the price of a regular Disney ticket, and well worth it.

 

The End. 😉

 

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❤ MegaNerd